When Capability didn't come to Canons Ashby

The terraced gardens at Canons Ashby

Canons Ashby is home to a rare survival of Baroque formal garden design.

Unlike the monumental landscapes of Stowe and Ashridge nearby, its walled geometric terraces were not swept away for lower maintenance Capability Brown inspired vistas, which were so in vogue by the latter half of the eighteenth century.

" It’s a place of inspiration, where people can pick up practical ideas for their own gardens."
- Chris Smith - Canons Ashby Gardens and Parkland Manager

The gardens were laid out by Edward Dryden between 1708 & 1717. The arrangement of square axials and terracing that works its way down to the bottom is very characteristic of the style of London and Wise, who were revolutionary garden designers that worked for royalty in their day.

Edward was thrifty enough to reuse the remains of the dissolved medieval Priory across the road in much of the stone work, including the walls. Though the gardens became dated within fifty years of their creation, they were originally reflective of the highly fashionable lifestyle he’d desired. 

Enjoying the tulips at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire
Visitors looking at the tulips in the garden at Canons Ashby, Northamptonshire.

Antiquated gardens suited the succeeding Dryden heirs fine, however, and very little was altered over the next 300 years except for the turfing of the Green Court in the nineteenth century, which had previously been used as a driveway for the main entrance.

Garden enthusiasts will appreciate Stowe’s close proximity to Canons Ashby, so that a visit to compare the stylistic contrasts between the two can be completed in one blissful day out.

" The garden is loved because of its tranquil atmosphere, encircled by warm ironstone walls and filled with a riot of colour."
- Chris Smith - Canons Ashby Gardens and Parkland Manager